/. New YorkEntomol. Soc. 99(1): 132-137, 1991
THEXARVA OF BLEPHARIDATTA
GEORGE C. WHEELER AND JEANETTE WHEELER
Research Associates, Florida State Collection of Arthropods;
3358 NE 58th Avenue, Silver Springs, Honda 32688
Abstract. The larva of the myrmicine genus Blepharidatta is described for the first time and
illustrated. The genus is transferred from the tribe Ochetomyrmecini to a new tribe Blephari-
Wheeler described the genus Blepharidatta in 1 9 1 5 and assigned it to the myrmicine
tribe Attini; he added, "but it differs so much from the other known genera in the
structure of the head and especially the 2-jointed club of the antennae, the 4-toothed
mandible and the regularly arranged setiform hairs on the dorsal surface, that it seems
necessary to establish a distinct genus for its accommodation. Apart from the head
the structure of the body is very simple and primitive for an Attiine [sic!] ant, even
simpler and more primitive than in the genus Proatta, recently established by Forel
for a unique Sumatran species." Wheeler also described as the type species brasiliensis
from Para, Brazil.
Gallardo (1916:319) reported finding several worker ants at Alta Gracia, a moun-
tain resort ca. 20 mi south of Cordoba, which is in the province of Cordoba, in north-
Emery (1921-1922) placed Blepharidatta in the Dacetini (p. 12) because of its
"tete cordiforme, echancree par derriere et fort retrecie devant" and separated it
from the other genera (p. 313) by the "scrobe occupant tout le bord lateral de la tete;
mandibules courtes, pouvant se croiser." He gave the distribution (p. 315-316) as
"Bresil: Para. Argentine" and said: "Cette Fourmis a une ressemblance frappante
avec le genre fossile Hypopomyrmex de 1'ambre de Sicile. M. Wheeler classe le genre
Blepharidatta parmi les Attini. II me semble avoir bien plus d'affinite avec les Dace-
Wheeler stated (1922:376) that the habits of Blepharidatta are unknown. In his
key to genera (p. 668) he separated Blepharidatta from all other attine genera by its
distinct 2-jointed antennal club and its long antennal scrobes.
In 1953 Brown transferred Blepharidatta to the tribe Ochetomyrmecini because it
is "very closely related to the species of Wasmannia Forel, differing chiefly in its
more elongate head with produced posterior angles and in having a long, low petiolar
Kempf in 1967 described a second species (B. conops), from Tres Lagoas, Mato
Grosso State, Brazil. He also placed the genus in the tribe Ochetomyrmecini.
In 1975 Kempf devoted several pages to prove that Ochetomyrmex and Was-
mannia could not be in the same tribe and suggested "at least as a provisional solution,
the transfer of Ochetomyrmex to the Solenopsidine tribal complex, in the sense of
1991 LARVA OF BLEPHARIDATTA 133
Ettershank. Thus the tribe name Ochetomyrmecini (nov. syn.) becomes meaningless,
and the genera Wasmannia and Blepharidatta are without a tribal name. I refrain
from coining a new name for these two groups, because it seems that the whole
classification, generic and tribal, of the lower Myrmicinae needs urgent overhauling."
Our study of larvae supports the tribal separation of Wasmannia and Ocheto-
myrmex and the transfer of the latter to tribe Solenopsidini, but we are not about to
join Kempf s refrain and put Blepharidatta and Wasmannia in the same tribe. We
prefer to leave Wasmannia in Tribal Limbo, pending the Great Overhaul.
Before beginning the study of the larvae, we decided it would be advisable to get
acquainted with the workers of the tribes involved. Characterizations of tribes are
generally unsatisfactory, so we supported them by reality, namely examination of
actual workers in our reference collection.
In his key (1922:655) Wheeler characterized the Dacetini thus: Clypeus prolonged
between frontal carinae; head cordate, strongly narrowed in front, its dorsal corners
not spinose. Antennae 4- to 12-jointed, the last joint being very much longer than
the preceding; mandibles porrect.
We characterize the Proattini thus: Monotypic. Antennae 1 2-segmented, not
clubbed. Head with an antennal scrobe, each dorsal corner produced into three
tubercles. Dorsum with 10 spines on thorax and three on epinotum. Male with 13-
segmented antennae and well developed pterostigma. Do not cultivate fungi. Old
We characterize Wasmannia thus: Monomorphic. Antennae 11 -segmented, with
3-segmented club, with terminal segment decidedly predominant. Antennal scrobe
shallow. Meso-epinotal suture impressed; surface of thorax roughened with sculpture
only. Epinotum armed with spines. Hairs long and sparse.
We characterize the adults of tribe Attini as follows: Workers and female: an-
tennae 1 1 -segmented, without a club. Pterostigma narrow or absent. Worker: mono-
morphic or polymorphic. Head with antennal scrobe. Thoracic dorsum with spines,
teeth, bosses or prominent ridges. Male: Antennae usually 1 3-segmented. Cultivate
fungi. New World.
We establish a new tribe for Blepharidatta with the name Blepharidattini based
on worker characters: Monotypic. Monomorphic. Head with deep antennal scrobes
extending to dorsal corners. Each dorsal corner of head with an angulate tubercle.
Eyes notably protuberant. Antennae 1 1 -segmented, with a 2-segmented club. Man-
dibles triangular and 4-toothed, directed ventrally. Thoracic dorsum without im-
pressed sutures; surface roughened with sculpture only. Epinotal spines long. Petiole
long and with only a small node or none. Postpetiole small. Hairs sparse, long and
It is difficult to compare a single genus with 1 1 genera of Attini, but it is possible
to compare Blepharidatta with the most primitive attine genus, Cyphomyrmex. In
order to facilitate a multiple comparison we prepared a table (see Table 1) of 18
characters of Blepharidatta, Cyphomyrmex and Wasmannia. Characters 1-5 are
shared by all three genera; 6 and 7 are shared by Wasmannia and Blepharidatta', 8
1 are shared by Blepharidatta and Cyphomyrmex; 1 1 and 1 2 are shared by Was-
mannia and Cyphomyrmex; while 13-18 are different in each genus.
JOURNAL OF THE NEW YORK ENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY Vol. 99(1)
Table 1 . Comparison of 1 8 characters of workers of Blepheridatta, Cyphomyrmex and
moderately large and
moderately large and
5. Antennal seg-
6. Epinotal spines
7. Humeral angles
8. Frontal carinae
not lobulate below
1 1 . Dorsal corners
13. Antennal club
large; node high, nar-
long; low node pres-
short, low, wide
ent or absent
1st somite long, oth-
small, 1st somite
17. Body hairs
long, erect, sparse
long, bristly, erect on
18. Thoracic sculp-
rugae and punctures
bosses or carinae
To us, this means that Blepharidatta should be placed in a monotypic tribe, if only
adult anatomy is considered. However,, taxonomists now maintain that a species
should be denned by all its characters.
In September 1989 we received from Dr. J. Lattke in Caracas, Venezuela a most
welcome gift of 2 workers and 1 2 larvae of B. brasiliensis. These not only enabled
us to examine a very rare ant species but to describe a larva new to us and perhaps
to shed some light on the tribal problem.
Blepharidatta brasiliensis Wheeler
Length (through spiracles) 1.5-2 mm. Profile attoid; segmentation indistinct; spira-
cles on T2 0.01 mm in diameter, decreasing gradually to 0.008 mm on AI, and to
0.006 mm on AVIII. Integument minutely spinulose, the spinules more numerous
1991 LARVA OF BLEPHARIDATTA 135
Fig. 1 . Blepharidatta brasiliensis. a, Head in anterior view, x 1 00; b, left mandible in anterior
view, x625; c, body hair, x 100; d, larva in side view, x30.
and in short rows on venter of anterior somites and dorsum of posterior somites.
Body hairs sparse, 0.025-0.125 mm long, slightly curved, tip sometimes flexuous.
Cranium suboctagonal, widest dorsally; integument of dorsal portion spinulose, the
spinules minute and in short to long rows. Antennae large, at midlength of cranium,
each with 3 sensilla, each of which bears a spinule. Head hairs few (ca. 22), very
short (0.003-0.008 mm long), except for 2 near midline (ca. 0.06 mm long). Labrum
crescentic, wide and very short, anterior surface with 2 sensilla; ventral surface with
6 sensilla; posterior surface with numerous rows of minute spinules. Mandible small,
narrowly subtriangular; apex moderately sclerotized, sharp-pointed and without me-
dial or superficial teeth. Maxilla with rounded apex (adnate?); palp a short frustum
with 5 (4 apical and 1 lateral) sensilla; galea tall digitiform with 2 apical sensilla.
Labium feebly bilobed, with short arcuate rows of minute spinules; palp an irregular
projection with 5 sensilla; an isolated sensillum between each palp and the opening
of the sericteries; the latter a transverse slit. Hypopharynx spinulose, the spinules
minute and in arcuate rows, which are in subtransverse rows. (Material studied: 1 2
larvae from Alto Rio Mabaca, Amazonas, Venezuela, 21'N, 657'W, alt. 200 m,
courtesy of J. Lattke.)
We have characterized the larvae of Attini (1976:60 and 1986:691) as follows:
Profile attoid. Body almost naked, the few hairs minute to short and largely restricted
to the ventral surface. Mandibles attoid, surface covered with coarse spinules, which
are directed apically.
The larvae of several genera do not conform (see G. C. Wheeler, 1948), but they
are kept in the Attini because their adults culture fungi. Myrmicocrypta has none of
the distinctive larval characters, but it has adult characters. Apterostigma and Seri-
comyrmex have non-attoid mandibles, but adults and all other larval characters
We characterized the larva of Proatta in 1985, but we now characterize it thus:
Profile pheidoloid. Mandibles amblyoponoid, without spinules. Body hairs sparse,
generally distributed, short, with tip curved or bifid.
We characterize the larva of Wasmannia thus: Profile pheidoloid. Body hairs
sparse; short and denticulate and long unbranched. Mandibles pristomyrmecoid.
We characterize the larva of Blepharidattini thus: Profile attoid. Mandibles am-
JOURNAL OF THE NEW YORK ENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY Vol. 99(1)
Figs. 2-4. Comparison of larvae of Cyphomyrmex, Blepharidatta and Wasmannia. 2. Cy-
phomyrmex. a, Profile; b, body hair; c, left mandible in anterior view. 3. Blepharidatta. a,
Profile; b, body hair; c, left mandible in anterior view. 4. Wasmannia. a, Profile; b, 2 types of
body hairs; c, left mandible in anterior view.
blyoponoid, with two acute teeth, one apical and one subapical. Body hairs sparse
and moderately long; generally distributed; unbranched, smooth and slightly curved.
In Figures 2-4 we compare the larva of a primitive attine (Cyphomyrmex), with
that of Wasmannia, and with that of Blepharidatta.
Our overall conclusion is that the tribe Attini comprises the 1 1 fungus-growing
genera. The genus Proatta remains in the monotypic tribe Proattini. The tribe Ocheto-
myrmecini is dissolved and the genus Blepharidatta is transferred to a new monotypic
Brown, W. L. 1953. Characters and synonymies among genera of ants. II. Breviora. Mus.
Comp. Tool. 18:1-8.
Emery, C. 1921-1922. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Myrmicinae. Genera Insectorum. 397 pp.,
7 pi. P. Wytsman, Tervueren, Belgium.
Gallardo, A. 1916. Notes systematiques et ethologiques sur les fourmis attines de la Repub-
lique Argentine. Anal. Mus. Nacion. Hist. Nat. Buenos Ayres 28:317-344.
1991 LARVA OF BLEPHARIDATTA 137
Kempf, W. W. 1967. Three new South American ants. Studia Entomol. 10:353-360.
Kempf, W. W. 1975. Miscellaneous studies on Neotropical ants. VI. Studia Entomol. 18:
Wheeler, G. C. 1948. The larvae of the fungus-growing ants. Amer. Midland Nat. 40:664-
Wheeler, G. C. and Jeanette Wheeler. 1976. Ant Larvae: Review and Synthesis. Mem. En-
tomol. Soc. Washington No. 7, 108 pp.
Wheeler, G. C. and Jeanette Wheeler. 1985. The larva of Proatta. Psyche 92:447-450.
Wheeler, G. C. and Jeanette Wheeler. 1986. Ten-year supplement to "Ant Larvae: Review
and Synthesis." Proc. Entomol. Soc. Washington 88:684-702.
Wheeler, W. M. 1915. Two new genera of myrmicine ants from Brazil. Bull. Mus. Comp.
Wheeler, W. M. 1922. The ants collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition. Bull.
Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 45:39-269.
Received 20 November 1989; accepted 22 May 1990.